The World Cup and Global Politics

 

American soccer fans root on the US National Team against Belgium at the World Cup on Tuesday.

American soccer fans root on the US National Team against Belgium at the World Cup on Tuesday.

The United States was sent packing from the World Cup yesterday after a fantastic match against Belgium. But the success of the American team at the World Cup buoyed the growing popularity of soccer in the United States.

An interesting opinion piece in Time this week raises some very interesting questions about the growing popularity of soccer in the United States and what that means for American exceptionalism. In “How Soccer is Destroying American Exceptionalism,” Andrés Martinez observes that the growing popularity of soccer in the United States brings us in line with the rest of the world.

“It’s hard to exaggerate how much soccer’s incursion into American life threatens to erode American exceptionalism, not to mention our traditional geographic illiteracy,” Martinez writes. “For most of the 20th century, even when so much of our culture was being adopted by others, Americans were adamant about not reciprocating by adopting the world’s sport. The prevailing culture was suspicious of the game…It seemed the duty of patriotic Americans was to avoid soccer, and even ridicule it, as much as it was to refuse measuring in centigrade or meters. We compensated for our sports provincialism by calling the champions of our domestic sports leagues “world champions.

“But all that is changing. With the World Cup in the Americas for the first time in 20 years, the United States will experience this year’s tournament in a big way, and the exciting narratives that spin out of it will help bind young American fans to cheese-eating kids in Normandy, and elsewhere.”

What do you think? Has the success of the US National Team at this year’s World Cup cemented soccer in the broader American culture? If so, how might this affect the cultural engagement of the United States with the rest of the world?

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